The Story of a World War II Heroine-Irena Sendler-Truth!
Summary of eRumor:
The eRumor is a simple one. It says “Irena Sendler—Must Watch!” and includes a link to a video on YouTube. It is a clip from the television show of syndicated talk show host Glenn Beck. In the video, he gives tribute to a woman named Irena Sendler who died at the age of 98 in May, 2008 in Poland. Beck describes how she rescued Jewish children in Poland by talking their parents into giving them up and placing them in non-Jewish homes to save them from dying at the hands of the Nazis. Beck also comments that she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor that went to Al Gore instead. Others versions of stories about Irena Sendler with photos continue to circulate.
The story of Irena Sendler is true. According to a website set up in her honor at www.irenasendler.org, she was not widely known until a series of events that started in Kansas in the U.S.A. in 1999.
A teacher in a rural Kansas town discovered a short magazine article that claimed that a Polish woman saved 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and 1943. He gave the story to four high school students and asked them to check it out. He said he’d never heard of the woman and speculated that the article may have gotten the facts wrong.
The students looked into the story and discovered that Irena Sendler was real, her story was accurate, and that she was still alive and living in Poland.
Sendler was a Catholic social worker during the 1940s who saw the handwriting on the wall for the Jews of Poland. She became concerned for the children in the Warsaw Ghetto, which was one of the largest ghettos of Jews established by the Nazis. The population of the Warsaw Ghetto dropped from 450,000 to about 70,000 people because of starvation, sickness, and tens of thousands of Jews deported to concentration camps and death.
Sendler convinced Jewish parents that their children were facing death either in the Ghetto or in concentration camps and offered to rescue them. She smuggled the children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and hid them in the homes of Poles who adopted them or in orphanages or convents. She made lists of the children’s names and family connections and hid them in jars in her garden so that someday she could find the children and tell them who they were.
Sendler was eventually discovered, arrested, tortured, and imprisoned by the Nazis. The Polish underground bribed a guard to let her escape and she spent the rest of the war in hiding.
The students in Kansas developed a performance titled Life In a Jar that tells the story of Irena Sendler. Those performances and the publicity that resulted have thrust the news about Irena Sendler around the world.